I have been frozen with horror at two tales that were brought before my consciousness this morning, one by Yahoo News and one over Facebook.
The first featured "heartwarming" texts from a thirteen year old boy to his best friend (a boy) about how he liked boys the way other boys liked girls. His best friend assured him that there was nothing wrong about "being gay" and that he'd stand by him, etc.
The boy-liking boy's sister was so impressed by their "maturity" that she widely publicized their "heartwarming texts" on the internet. Hey, world! Vulnerable thirteen year old boy right here! Yoo hoo!
I can't bear to see if any of them have been identified. I seriously hope not. When I was a child, vulnerable boys were not told to be frightened of "homophobes" but of male child molesters. And when I was a teenager, there was this concept of "just a stage," not to mention "gay till graduation." I suppose that by 20, many a boy who "liked boys" at twelve or thirteen will now like girls. Some will not. But you would never guess this from the industrial-entertainment complex.
I thank my lucky stars that the adults around more or less ignored my long-term crush on an older teenage girl (for which she was unfairly blamed) instead of slapping the lesbian label on my unformed mind. I wonder if that happens to thirteen year old girls today. Personally I was not at all disturbed by myself, for my guides to life, the Nigel Molesworth books and Seventeen magazine, wrote about how girls got crushes on older girl and even teachers.
The second featured texts from a twelve year old girl to her best friend (a girl) about how she was running away from home to move in with a man. The best friend, presumably also twelve, wanted to know how this girl could go away and leave her. The would-be runaway then changed her story to say, okay, she wouldn't go but feared being kidnapped. The best friend changed her tone to caring and said not to worry as the man--whom the first girl had met online-didn't have her address. But--
"Um yea I told him where I live," texted the girl, and sure enough, Jane Doe was later found 21 miles away. She told police she had been sexually assaulted twice by her thirty-two year old kidnapper.
Jane Doe was found as quickly as she was because of a thick trail of internet crumbs, including her "Xbox Live gamer tag, her Apple iCloud acccount, and her social media chat accounts." So on the one hand, her life online helped the police find her. But on the other, they led to her kidnapping and rape.
Several thoughts come to mind. The first, of course, is the betrayal of children by older people. The sister who publicized her brother's most personal thoughts to his best friend. The exploitation of a girl by an adult man. The failure of her parents--and Chatty Cathy's parents--to adequately supervise their daughters' online behavior. Who is/was paying for all these apps and devices?
The second is, of course, the promotion of homosexuality and/or underage sex to children as an unproblematic lifestyle
Of course, again because my schoolyard was unusually nasty, I note that the boys with sexual feelings for other boys should have it made very clear to them that forcing their attentions on other boys, especially the ones smaller than themselves, even the ones whom they suspect also "like boys", is unwelcome and illegal. And at the same time, they should be warned that a public identity as "gay" leaves them much more likely to be the subject of unwanted sexual attention.
Children are not little adults. Children are not these amazing moral and intellectual giants whose sagacity dumb, hulking adults can learn from. When Our Lord told us to be like little children, He meant in terms of our relationship to God. You know that wide-eyed, blissful, happy confident look children have when they look at a trusted adult, or their look of frank, undisguised panic and fear of your reaction when you catch them at something naughty? That is how we should be towards Almighty God. But in all other ways, and in all other relationships, we have to be grown-ups, and part of being a grown-up is understanding that children are CHILDREN.
Children are lumps of proving human dough, unable to fend for themselves in a very nasty world in which many, many would-be bakers want to have the shaping of them. Educators in love with a theory. Governmental officials with quotas to fill. Advertisers with targets to meet. Whoremongers who want to have sex with as many young, attractive people as they can, as soon as they can. Clergymen who long to be liked. Childless couples (or "couples") who want to add a little children to their lifestyle décor. And the two people most responsible for protecting their little rounds of proving dough from all these interested people are the children's PARENTS.
It must be so tough to be a parent now. I will have to talk to my brother about this. My parents very strictly monitored our TV watching, and the idea that we might have had our own TVs makes me laugh. Naturally we did not have our own phones, and when my brother got a hand-me-down computer from my father, he used it to learn programming and play games, not communicate with people.
My parents were also very strict about how much money we were allowed to have and somewhat strict about what we were allowed to do with it. (My brother and I tended to spend our allowance on records.) They were so uncompromising on "Never Talk To Strangers" that it was many years before I stopped being frightened of people who asked me for directions.
And, I am very proud to say, my mother had no time at all for priests who used curse words. I started arguing with priests when I was fourteen, and to my amazement and relief, my mother took my side against a "cool" priest who thought (wrongly) that the strong-man tactics he used with youth in American slums transferred easily to a suburban Canadian parish.
"But he's a priest," I said.
"I don't care if he's a priest," said my mother, pillar of the Catholic Women's League. "If any man uses bad language, hang up on him."
So even at church, unfortunately a haunt of predatory men in the 1970s and 1980s, as we now know, we kids were reasonably safe. Oh, and my mother was also of the opinion that various of our elementary school teachers were dumb, so I took their opinions--when they were as unprofessional as to voice any--with a grain of salt.
So actually, now that I ponder this, my parents made sure that the biggest influences on our childhood lives were themselves, their tastes, their religion and their philosophies. Anything that threatened this was treated to a loud black propaganda campaign by my noisy mother.